Telecinco grabs stake in Arion

Series producer headed by Alberto Carullo

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain -- Spanish television channel Telecinco is taking a 30% minority stake in the soon-to-be launched production house Arion Producciones, to be headed by Alberto Carullo.

Carullo, who acted as director of broadcast for the channel until he was named adjunct director general for content Monday, will be the majority shareholder and CEO of fiction series producer Arion. He is scheduled to leave his Telecinco post at the end of the year. Mariana Cortes, head of content at Grundy Prod., will join him at Arion.

The move signals a developing strategic pattern for Spain's most profitable broadcaster, marking the third time in two years that the channel has taken a stake in a production house, set up by a departing executive, catering to Telecinco's needs.

"It is a way to keep people and maintain talent within the structure of Telecinco, while enabling them to branch out on their own to pursue personal projects," said Mirta Drago, head of communication for Telecinco.

Telecinco has increasingly looked to what CEO Paolo Vasile calls "trustworthy producers" that have grown up in the Telecinco ranks to supply content.

Carullo and Cortes were responsible for setting up successful fiction series, such as "Yo Soy Bea" at the channel.

Former Telecinco executive Santiago Botella set up Producciones Mandarina in 2006, while separately Oscar Cornejo and Adrian Madrid created "La Fabrica de la Tele." Telecinco holds minority stakes in both companies and is the primary -- if not only -- client.